When I got pregnant this time I promised myself that I wouldn’t complain or whine when things got ugly. Why? Because I signed up for this and ultimately it is an awesome joy to be pregnant.

I’m now in the middle of week 31 and friends, it’s gettin’ ugly. If you catch me making a contorted, generally unpleasant face: yes, my back probably hurts. Yes, I’m probably annoyed enough at the frequent potty breaks to consider having a catheter placed.  Yes, I’m probably tired because of the prior night’s repeated wakings to change position or make yet another trip to the bathroom.

But the real struggle now is counting all those discomforts as joy – remind myself that my body was made for this.  I am working on being thankful for those aches and pains as I know so many women who, through no fault of their own, will never be able to experience them or who were deprived of them as a result of miscarriage.

I am not broken.  I am not sick.  I am not fragile.  I am simply pregnant.

If you see me in discomfort the best thing you can do is remind me how awesome babies are – how worth it every ache and pain is.  Today, I’m going to put one of my ultrasound pictures on my locker at work as a reminder of what I’m going through all this for: a sweet little girl who sucks her thumb, who goes wild when I eat meat and sweet things,  and who already in so many ways is the exact opposite of her brother.

Even though I still alternate between “oh, we’ve got time to get x, y, z done…” and “holy crap!  Why didn’t I get that done last week?!”  I am getting excited to meet our baby.  The dreams I’m having (when I do get to sleep well) are simple: I’m holding her, nursing her, introducing her to Justin, and loving her with every fiber of my being.  In short, I am thankful.  And I know that on the day our little miss Georgia Seraphina is born, our little Sophia will be laughing with joy in heaven.  I have so much to be thankful for, so much to celebrate – these aches and pains count for nothing by comparison.

God is good – even if His gifts come with a few aches and pains.

My last post was nearly 5 months ago.  Ugh… so much has happened in, you know, life.  

Justin is doing great.  He’s plenty dramatic at times – he still throws tantrums daily that look like overgrown versions of a 2-year-old’s over-tired meltdown.  At the same time, he’s so sweet: If I’m home when he gets up in the morning, he comes and climbs into bed with me, snuggles in and smiles and says, “Hi Momma.”  It’s only a matter of moments before he demands I do something for him, but those precious moments are just that: precious.  Since I last posted, school has started again and Justin is out of the house for a full 4 hours 4 days a week.  He’s also started bi-weekly private speech therapy.  

 

Our “tiny baby” is growing lots.   I’m now wrapping up week 26.  Morning sickness tapered off around weeks 12-13 with a net momma weight loss of 12lbs.  It got bad enough that I could only keep water down with the help of a hefty dose of Zofran – which came with its own dose of unpleasant side effects.  Since then my job has been eating well: easy on the carbs, up on the protein, and watching my portions with the end goal of sliding into 40 weeks as close to 0lbs net gained.  So far I’m on track, rounding out the end of month 6 having only gained back 3 of the pounds I lost during the first trimester.  I’ve had almost no bloating (with Justin, by the time I found out I was even pregnant, I couldn’t wear my wedding ring), and over all, I feel pretty damn good.  Recently I’ve had some trouble with hip pain from what has been diagnosed as SI joint dysfunction (where my pelvic bones aren’t lining up the way they should with my coccyx) which can lead to some pretty knarly spasms.  Fortunately, it hasn’t gotten me in any trouble at work, and I continue to work as many hours as I can (40+).  

 

Last month we found out for certain that we are indeed expecting a sweet little GIRL!  We’re of course thrilled for so many reasons, not the least of which is simply that our autism risk is lower with a girl.  I had an ultrasound at 18 weeks and again at 21.  Both times our little baby was very busy sucking her thumb and pedaling her little feet.  At the last one, I actually got to see her wave her little fingers at me – one, two, three, four, five!  She’s measuring right on target, and there’s been no mention of moving due dates like there was when Justin kept measuring bigger and bigger.  

 

My big challenges?  

Keeping the pregnancy a secret from donors – since as soon as the cat’s out of the bag professionalism is super hard to maintain in my type of workplace.  Fortunately for now, my lab coat is as un-form-fitting and ill-fitting as a refrigerator box.  

The other thing is finding time to fulfill my almost extreme urge to do projects of a particularly domestic nature.  Sewing, baking, generally getting the house in order.  Not clinical “nesting”, but suffice it to say that I’m making due with crazy amounts of checklists that I just keep chipping away at.  And yes, I will be shampooing the carpet in December, and have already made 5 new receiving blankets.  🙂

Ok.  It might not seem like much.  All kids potty train at some point or another.  Though, you have to admit, few take a full 2.5 years from first try to first success. 

My little boy is 4-years 3-months old.  We knew it might take him longer to potty train than most with his developmental delays, so we’ve tried to be patient.  We’ve been told by his specialist not to expect regular success on the potty until around age 5.  We have tried E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. 

Today, I took Justin to the bathroom because he’d done the deed (#2) in his diaper, and thanks to the super-sensitive nose bequeathed to me by my current pregnancy it could NOT wait.  Got him in there, cleaned him up, then had him sit on the potty as usual.  To spare my nose further assault I opted to leave the room a moment to get a plastic bag to put the stench into.  When I returned, Justin was still happily sitting there.  At this moment though, I heard something.  It was the sound of a tiny person peeing.  I didn’t believe it at first.  In fact, it wasn’t until he got up and I got him dressed that I looked into the toilet and saw something incredible: yellow water. 

OH MY FREAKIN’ GOODNESS!!  YELLOW WATER!!!! 

It took a minute to let it sink in to my brain what had happened.  Seriously!  I went out to Justin and asked him, “Justin, did you put pee in the potty?  Did you go potty?!”  As is his nature he looked at me half ambivalent, half disinterested then left to go play without saying a word.

Now I have to not let it go to my head, because naturally I’m thinking all of the following things all at once:

Holy Crap!  What just happened?  Was that real?  I am SO PROUD!  Does this mean that *maybe* he’ll be mostly potty trained by the time the new baby comes?!  Will he even do it again? 

If nothing else, I’ll take this one success and hope it happens again very soon!  Gotta remind myself that one step forward – even if the next one doesn’t come for a VERY long time, is still a step forward.  Right?

 

It’s been a strange couple of months at our home.

In January we found out we were pregnant again. Then that ended on March 6th after being what some call a “walking tomb” for a day shy of 6 weeks with an emergency d&c for hemorraging.

On April 23rd we discovered we were pregnant once again, and with a mix of joy and fear Matt and I looked to what our lives might hold in the next year. We saw a beautiful little heartbeat last Tuesday. I have some video of it and watch it a couple of times every day – especially when I’m sick or otherwise wondering if all the drama is worth it. Things are going swimmingly with my pregnancy – and I am so very thankful.

In all this timult – the joy falling to grief, turning to coping, then hope, then joy again – someone has been missing something from his Momma. Or maybe he’s just scared of all the change he’s seeing in me. Either way, my dear, sweet Justin has changed in his behavior to me and it has broken my heart.

I have been a mom for 4 years, 2 months (not counting gestation). 2.5 of those years have been with the knowledge that my son is Autistic.  My relationship with my son and I has had ups and downs – it’s normal.   In the end, I have always been his rock.  The one he goes to when he’s sick, or has an owie, or wants to cuddle with before bed.  Until now.

I have just encountered the hardest part of my parenting journey so far:

In the last few months my son’s behavior has changed so drastically toward me that I barely recognize him.  He now actively ignores me and tells me to “go bye-bye” at every opportunity, denies me all physical touch, and refuses all of my attempts to feed him, change him or dress him.  I work outside the home, a full 40 hours – and wonky unreliable ones at that.  But then it has always been that way.

Now we figure out where to go from here.  For now though, I’m getting kinda raw.  I miss my son.  The one who, even if he never said “I love you, Momma” (Clarification: he has uttered some form of those words only twice: once at his pediatrician’s office, and once in our home – both were echolalic.) showed affection in other ways.

Matt is working on scheduling Momma/Justin date time into their schedule each day – but it’s tough to work in when Justin has school in the morning, and I work the rest of the day until just before bedtime.

Any ideas?


7 weeks 4 days, heartrate of 163!  Good baby!

Today, May 22, 2012 I am 7 weeks 4 days pregnant with pregnancy #3. So far the numbers (HcG, Progesterone) have looked good. I’ve been nauseous, had the sore boobs, and the roller-coaster emotions of a hormone-riddled well, pregnant lady.  I’ve been taking 100mg of Progesterone each day as a little bit of an insurance policy.  We got pregnant on our first attempt following our official “okay-to-try-again” from the midwife.

I haven’t told many people, mostly out of fear. I mean we announced at Church at 5 weeks because we are in desperate need of their prayers. But other than that, I don’t even think most of my family knows.  Only 2 friends at work know.

This pregnancy has, in many ways, been more terrifying than the last one.  I wake up every single morning and jab the girls to make sure they still hurt.  On mornings when they hurt less, I freak out.  I’ve had a couple of crazy cravings already: Rolo candy and on a separate occasion, Kraft American Cheese Singles.  I fight nausea every day.  In week 6 alone I lost 3.8lbs, and I’ve probably lost more this week.  I’m not throwing up, but between the food aversions, the plain ol’ nausea, and the fear of throwing up (or at least hours of dry-heaving) if I do eat I’m lucky if I take in 800 calories a day.  I’m already in maternity pants – my scrubs were loose to begin with and they are just starting to get snug – my regular jeans aren’t even close to being button-able.

Despite all this, I am terrified at what I might see on my ultrasound today.  What I’m desperately praying to see is a robust heartbeat, good placental placement, and growth on target.   What if we see a repeat of last time?  What if something is very wrong?

For the moment, I’m taking comfort in having woken up with the Trisagion Hymn in my head.  For the moment, I’ll embrace it with the hope that it holds me through my fear this morning.

 

Today I went to my doctor in an attempt to line up a plan for the possibility that I may yet have even more waiting time before my baby passes.  (Wondering what’s going on?  See “Sophia” and “Limbo“)  I discovered the 3 worst things that can be told to a woman with a missed miscarriage awaiting her baby’s passing:

1.  OB (called in for consult to my primary doc) says: “I’m not completely convinced your pregnancy isn’t viable.” 

Because obviously declining HCG numbers, 2 ultrasounds two weeks apart that look identical, and a complete lack of pregnancy symptoms that were there a few weeks ago just aren’t enough, apparently.  We need to torment the mother who’s spent the last few weeks grieving and wrapping her head around the fact that her baby is never going to grow.

2.  Primary Care Doc:  “Probably gonna be another week or so before you can get in to the OB to see IF we can help things move along a little quicker.”

Since, clearly a tired, emotionally strained woman 10.5 weeks pregnant with a baby that stopped growing 4.5 weeks ago isn’t worth trying to pull a few strings for.  A woman who wouldn’t be sitting in this office if she weren’t ready to have some tangeable advice/recommendations.

3.  Nurse relaying the results of today’s HCG level by phone during my lunch break at work: “Congratulations!  It came back positive!”

(Forehead smack)  I actually probably ruined this poor girl’s day with my response: “Um.  No.  That’s not really the information I was looking for.  It should have been a Quantitative Beta HCG…”  <<awkward pause>> Then she responds “Let me see if there’s a note…  oh.  Um, does seven-two-six-five mean anything?”  “Yes, that’s the number I was looking for”, I say while barely containing the impatience that is fast turning to rage. “Did the doctor say anything else?”  “Ummm… to call an OB next week and that another ultrasound probably isn’t necessary now.”  Ya think?!

So there I am, in the locker room at work.  My body shaking with rage and anger and frustration.  This is not help.  This is a stall.  This wasn’t even a referral to a particular OB.  I waited nearly 2 weeks for this appointment to see my regular doctor – just to be bounced.  Everything I read, the people I talked to (friends as well as professionals) told me that my primary doc could at least take the information and offer me a plan for management.

Letting it go.  I hate the western medicine model of care.  I’m getting to the point where I think all they have going for them is online medical records and the fact that insurance covers them.  If only my insurance would cover naturopathic…

That’s it.  I’m watching Kill Bill Vol. 1 tonight.

Up?  Down?  Happy?  Sad?  Anxious?  Frustrated?

Yes.

All of the above.

I’m now a full 9.5 weeks pregnant with a baby who stopped growing at just under 6 weeks (See my last blog post, “Sophia”)

I have come to accept that my baby is not growing and now find myself in this strange limbo.  A sense of finality juxtaposed by what feels like an eternity continuing on.  I’ve had the slightest bit of cramping, but not so much as the tiniest amount of spotting.  My mind wants to let go, to start the next adventure, but my body just won’t.  My heart aches for the loss of my baby, and yet I want to put it all behind me.

I saw the midwife on Thursday, on what should have been my first prenatal visit.  Matt and I went to her beautiful home office – with its warm colors and soothing smells and atmosphere.  Beautiful pictures of mothers and newborns together – soaking up each others’ presence covering one of the walls.  I don’t think jealousy was what I was feeling.  Just sadness.  I wanted that to be me, to be us: me holding and nursing and cuddling my sweet little baby.  Matt squeezing my shoulder.  Justin petting his new sibling’s little baby-fuzz capped head.

I feel guilty wanting her to pass.  She’s my baby – no matter how small.

I’ve gotten good at ignoring it all.  I can even laugh – go a few days without crying.  Then I have moments like these – where it just hurts.  I feel a bit lost, alone, and frustrated.  God has a plan, but I’m having some difficulty seeing what it is.  I am weary of just waiting and doing nothing –  but the alternative is frightening to me.  I don’t know how I should feel, or even what to focus on.   There are those who see me fairing better than they would have anticipated, and there are those who are the opposite – that I’m making mountains out of molehills (after all, this kind of thing  happens every day).  Deep down, I want to believe both of them – like it would give me some kind of guideline, some practical way of coping that I’m clearly missing since i just keep switching sides.  Maybe it’s just the hormones.  Maybe I’m just flipping insane.  Either way, I need some peace.  I need for however I’m feeling in the moment to be okay.  To be “normal”.

When I was 2 weeks “overdue” with Justin, I really thought that nothing could be worse than the countless hours of waiting for my son to be born.  Now I know that waiting for the arrival of a life, a beginning, is better than waiting for the arrival of an ending.

I just want it to be over.  Lord, please, have mercy.  Bring speedy resolution to my suffering.

Tomorrow, Saturday, February 19th is the Saturday of Souls – we will be in Church honoring our child.  A candle will be lit for the child that will never taste the air or feel her mothers touch.

After months upon months of devouring books, charting basal body temperatures, and natural herbs under the guidance of my Naturopath, I got some news.  On January 10th (my 31st birthday), my doctor confirmed that I was pregnant.  Matt and I were thrilled.   The first few weeks passed painfully slowly.  I was SO excited I could burst and not being able to tell anyone but closest family was about all I could bear.  By week 4 I was starting to get nauseous, boobs hurting, the works.  At 5 weeks I had to let a couple of people at work know so I wouldn’t just look like the biggest slacker ever taking potty breaks every 40 minutes.   At home Matt and I started bonding with our new little one.  I found a new desire to follow through with my prayer rule: caring for my soul in order to care for my unborn child.  I found myself compelled to pray daily and throughout the day, to sip Holy Water, and reported for Confession the first Saturday after I discovered my pregnancy.

What made this pregnancy different was this: with Justin, I was vomiting at least a couple times a week by 6-7 weeks along.  I was actually waking in the night to head to the restroom.  With this one, I had a little constant nausea during the day, came close to puking a few times but didn’t.  Morning sickness has pretty much manifest itself as a general aversion to food of any sort throughout the day.  It was difficult to discern whether something wasn’t right, or whether I was simply being blessed with an easy pregnancy.  As any pregnant woman does, I had dreams.  With Justin, my dreams were about him and his adventures.  With this one, I have dreamed of other women discovering their own pregnancies with joy.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant with Justin, I knew in my core that not only was he a boy, but that he was destined to be a little fireball (which he is).  This pregnancy was not the same.  This pregnancy brought a sense of joy and peace, and I could feel in my heart that growing within my womb was a little spirit of gentleness and sweetness.  My heart called her Sophia by about week 5, not sure why other than simple divine suggestion.  St. Sophia, the mother of 3 daughters: Faith, Hope, and Love; the Saint who I discovered only writing this post is celebrated each year on September 17th, just 2 days before my due date.

Early on, I requested an early ultrasound to see a heartbeat and confirm that everything was growing well.  At 6 weeks 2 days, we got that ultrasound.  We saw no heartbeat (they said it was just too soon and that it’s not super common to see one that early anyway) but a healthy gestational sac, yolk sac, and the starts of a baby.  According to the measurements, my baby was 5weeks 6 days.  Which I tried to not let concern me, I was assured it was within the okay range for my known ovulation date.

The week before ultrasound #2 was rough.  That Monday I woke up having slept on my stomach for the first time in a few weeks, as I had been previously unable to due to chest tenderness that was now nearly gone.  Nausea was less too.  I tried to remind myself that fluctuations are normal early in pregnancy.  When it continued for more than 2 days I called the midwife who scheduled a blood test.  The blood test revealed that my HCG  (the pregnancy hormone) levels were at the very low end of normal for someone closing on 8 weeks pregnant.  Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much the next few days – rather spending a lot of nighttime staring at the ceiling, praying, talking to myself and my little baby.

Exactly 2 weeks after the first one, now at 8 weeks 2 days, I returned for another ultrasound.  I watched and waited, but could see clearly what had happened – nothing.  No growth, no heartbeat, no change really.  Gestational sac was slightly larger, but the area that could be called “baby” was actually smaller this second time – reduced to what they simply called “a thickening”.  The Jesus prayer circled endlessly through my mind while I was on that table watching the screen, waiting for an answer.  Less than an hour after the appointment, my wonderful midwife called and confirmed what I saw on the screen: my baby was gone and that I should expect a miscarriage sometime in the next few weeks.

I felt prepared for this, but sad.  I had hoped, despite what I thought were just the irrational fears of a pregnant woman that the 2nd ultrasound would show a robust heartbeat, maybe even little arm and leg buds – a little gummy bear with a beating heart.  Wisely, I took the day off from work to get myself together – sort things through and report for the requested bloodwork.  Now I wait.  I wait for my body to figure out that my baby isn’t growing.  I wait for my body to decide that it is time to let her go.  I grieve, for sure, but I cannot ignore the feeling that there is much more to come – that somehow “Sophia” has made possible.

Of the many things that can be said when someone loses a pregnancy early on, I’ve heard “it just wasn’t meant to be” many times.  I don’t believe that for a minute.  Why?  Because this pregnancy, this baby, has a soul.  This baby has a purpose.  This baby has driven me into the arms of my God.  Given me hope that I can become pregnant again.  She has shown me the wisdom in introspection, to trust my instincts and my body, and that great life will be borne of this loss.  She has reminded me to rely on the support and prayers of my friends.

Hi everyone!  Justin has started something new these past couple of weeks.  See, the kid likes chalk (or really anything that makes a visible mark).  He writes on EVERYTHING with chalk.  Until this past year, he had NO interest in actually making marks of any kind.   Now we see numbers from time to time, and just earlier this week were treated to hundreds of chalk balloons on the walls of our apartment (first representational-though-entirely-copied art!!)

Justin uses us as his “stims”.  Yes, he flaps his hands when he’s excited and jumps up and down and shrieks – but more important to him is being the task-master watching us draw whatever he demands.  Sometimes we write numbers from 1 to about 356 (at which point he’s decided that he’s had his fill – we’re typically done by oh, 4).  Other times, we draw letters or household objects or other objects in his environment – yes, we’ve drawn hundreds of bottles and Target stores.  We also draw logos from favorite places: Target, UZoo (a favorite series of YouTube videos), etc.  Most importantly, we draw our rushed versions of his favorite cartoon characters: He-Man (and associated characters), Cookie Monster, and Strong Bad as he watches our every stroke.  

 

Chalk Mural: 8/11/11 by Justin Owen, Age 3Awesome, right?! Take a closer look at that left side there. It's okay, I didn't get it at first either. Well, Justin was so proud of his "art", he patted this part of the wall and said, "STRONG BAD!" after I left for work today. Now look at StrongBad:StrongBad = Snarky cartoon dude in a Mexican wrestler mask.

 
 
And this is how Justin sees them:
 
 
From the top (as Justin points them out):
“It’s gots [a] head.”
“It’s gots eyes.”
“It’s gots teeth.” (*my personal favorite)
“It’s gots shirt.”
“It’s gots legs.”
 
 
LOVE IT!! 
 
For you more “sensible” people out there, a quick statement about writing on my walls:
 
I know we’ll be painting our own walls before moving out of this apartment (you can only wash chalk off the same walls so many times before their cheap-o paint gives way to drywall), but there are greater tragedies.  We fought for so long to get him to make any marks, and from our past experience with Justin we know that he will only “need” to do this for a little while longer before he moves on to the next thing.  We don’t encourage him on the wall and we give him other options – but his interest in something that will grow his mental and manual development so much makes this a battle not worth fighting.   The benefits outweigh the risks by a long shot. 
 
In the meantime, we’re celebrating our little boy finding new ways to tell us about his world.  And that, friends, is worth celebrating!

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